March 24

An eventful date in church history

  • 1603 James VI of Scotland (1566-1625) succeeds Queen Elizabeth as ruler of England. Despite hopes by English Catholics that James, the son of Mary Queen of Scots, would relax laws against their religion the new king maintained that legislation, prompting young Catholic conspirators to plan his assassination in the Gunpowder Plot. He similarly disappointed the Puritan element who hoped that James, raised a Calvinist, would favour them and abolish the episcopacy. Perhaps the greatest achievement of his reign was the 1611 production of the Authorized (or “King James”) Version of the English Bible.
  • 1820 Birth of Fanny Crosby (1820-1915), prolific hymn writer. Though blind since shortly after birth Crosby wrote 8,000 songs under 200 different pseudonyms. Among her compositions were “Blessed Assurance”, “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour”, “To God Be the Glory” and “Saved By Grace.”
  • 1829 The Roman Catholic Relief Act is passed by the British Parliament part of a series of legal moves allowing Catholics to vote, serve in Parliament, attend university and enter the professions. These restrictions dated from the 17th century and were particularly important in suppressing the majority aspirations in Ireland.
  • 1832 Mormon leader Joseph Smith (1805-44) is tarred and feathered by a mob in Hiram, Ohio. Smith’s decision to establish a new religion and community in Ohio outraged local residents who responded violently. Eventually Smith would be murdered and his followers would migrate to the West and settle in great numbers in Utah.
  • 1980 Archbishop Oscar Romero (1917-80) is gunned down while celebrating Mass in San Salvador. Though a theological conservative, Romero spoke out repeatedly against the human rights abuses of the military government earning him the hatred of the ruling classes. While no one has ever been convicted of his murder, it is universally attributed to a military death squad sanctioned by the authorities of the time. In 2018 he was canonized by Pope Francis, thus recognizing him as a saint.

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